A story for every victim

Carlos Navarro Franco, 68

Carlos Navarro Franco, a 68-year-old Latino, was among five people fatally wounded during a gunman's rampage in Santa Monica on Friday, June 7.

Franco, a groundskeeper at Santa Monica College, was at the campus with his 26-year old daughter Marcela Franco when John Zawahri, 23, opened fire on their SUV. Franco died at the scene. His daughter died at a hospital two days later.

Zawahri was killed by police during a confrontation in the college's library.

“Carlos was truly a family man,” Santa Monica College President Chui L. Tsang wrote in a letter to the campus community. “He was a dedicated husband and father and an integral part of the Santa Monica College family. His dedicated work to the campus grounds was enjoyed by students and visitors for two decades. He will be sorely missed.”

Police said the 10-minute rampage began just before noon Friday at a house on Yorkshire Avenue that was set on fire. Authorities later found the bodies of the gunman’s father, Samir Zawahri, 55, and brother, Chris, 25, inside.

By the time police caught up with John Zawahri at the college library, killing him in a shootout, the gunman had also killed Margarita Gomez, 68, outside the building and wounded several others along the way. Law enforcement sources described Zawahri as an emotionally troubled person who armed himself with high-powered weapons and may have had up to 1,300 rounds of ammunition.

In his letter to the college community Saturday, Tsang remembered Carlos Franco as a dedicated 22-year employee and quoted his supervisor, Tom Corpus, who described him as “a very, very hard worker.”

“He loved his job,” Corpus said. “He tried to make people happy and make sure he did the best job he could. He was all about his job. He was just a great asset to the college. Everything Carlos did was for the college and for his family.”

Franco is survived by his wife, Ramona, who works at Saint John’s Hospital Child Study Center, Tsang said, noting that a son died two summers ago in a traffic accident.

Donations to the Franco family memorial fund can be made online or by mail to the Santa Monica College Foundation, 1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405.

-- Kim Christensen

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